There was a reason why Tony Stark hated Loki to a certain degree.
Looking at the slender God- he could see no relations whatsoever to anyone he knew. Nobody had the same green eyes, or oil slick black hair. He didn't resemble anyone in the slightest.
(Perhaps if he cared to look closer he would notice.)
Perhaps he would notice the sharp edges of his cheek bone, as his jaw was always clenched; restraining a silver tongue that had barbs to rival Tony's own. Perhaps he could have seen the way his eyes watched lazily, slyly absorbing all information in the area.
The only thing Tony Stark did notice was the fashion and reaction Loki had to certain events.
He noticed how a calm complexion could turn to steady rage with a few thoughtless words- or how a carefully fitted mask hid all thoughts except the second it faltered in instinctively overwhelming fear.
Clint Barton, after recently being freed from Loki's control, had met the other Avengers. His mind still foggy as he tried to recollect all memories where he made or destroyed- trying to figure out why the SHIELD base was smoking and missing part of its rear wing.
Clint walked onto the bridge, Natasha at his side to fend off the harsh glares of the other SHIELD operatives that dared question him being on the ship.
Clint knew of Tony Stark, he had heard of him from the reports. Natasha joked with Clint after her mission to work for him, recruit him for the cause.
He was fully expecting an ass to be honest. From the way Natasha had described him, he should be cocky, arrogant and apathetic towards others. Walking in, Clint heard the slowly scathing remarks, and saw the venomous glare at a certain man Clint recognized as Steve Rogers.
"What's wrong?" Natasha asked in the silence that spread between the two. They glared at each other from opposite ends of the table. Stark finally pulled a phone out of some unknown space, Clint noticed he was dressed far too formal for such a setting.
"Agent Coulson died. Loki got him." Steve mumbled, breath hitching slightly.
Natasha stiffened, as did Clint.
Dead? Impossible, Coulson could get away with anything; he had survived dozens of impossible situations.
"I'm going to kill that bastard." Clint swore, eyes hardening as he thought of everything Loki had done. The fog receded slightly, just for his mind to replay a horrible sharp laughter that drove him to the point of wanting to stab an arrow in his own temple.
"Don't we all want to, Robin Hood." Stark growled, a reflection from the picture frame on the wall behind Stark showed that the phone he was 'playing with' actually had its screen off. He was listening to the conversation.
"…Did you know Agent Coulson?" Clint couldn't help but ask. He mentally felt the urge to shoot himself as he noticed the smallest of wavers in Tony's hand. He stored the phone, never actually turning it on.
The sharp brown eyes met his- and Clint couldn't help but flinch slightly. The laughter in his head receding momentarily as a certain familiarity of intelligence looked back. He noticed the mask that Stark had constructed for reasons unknown to him, and he watched as the mask broke slightly. It left anger and sorrow on his face before the mask was back, making his face emotionless- the sharpness was back in his eyes.
"Yeah, good man. Idiot- for taking on a god I mean. Should have taken someone with him- complete idiot." Stark mumbled, standing abruptly before making his way past Clint. Their shoulders brushed slightly, Stark was cold.
"Tasha-" Clint started, voice thick as his comrade next to him sighed, knowing his exact reason for distress.
"Don't worry- he always has one." She explained, referring to the mask she too had seen crack.
'So does Loki' Clint heard his mind whisper.
x-(X 2 X)-x
It was months after the Loki business when everything seemed to have calmed down. A few people burst in here and there- Clint and Natasha off doing assassin stuff, Bruce and Tony in the lab, and Steve out on the roof sketching the city skyline.
However, there were days when one of them inevitably managed to attract the eyes of the paparazzi.
In Clint and Steve's defense, the whole reason why this happened was because some small business decided to try and sue the Avengers, due to them destroying his restaurant. The invasion was one of the stranger ones, the aliens looked surprisingly like pickles. Steve had done his best to draw them into the unfortunate restaurant, setting a trap where Clint sent a combustible arrow to finish it.
Of course, SHIELD paid for the man to buy a new business and relocate to Nevada. Nevada apparently had a shortage of Italian restaurants.
The news of the suing had spread, causing the five of them (Thor having to stay in Asgard for some courtly business) to sit in stiff backed chairs while cameras flashed at a nonstop interval. Microphones were thrown forward into their faces, recordingthe uneven breathing of the group. Bruce out of everyone seemed the most uneasy, face slightly pale while he constantly wrung his hand, trying his best not to freak out at the close proximity and the shouting jumble of questions he could not pick apart from the others. Steve himself felt overwhelmed at the flow of people, each asking him something that cut off the question of another reporter.
"Silence!" Stark shouted, rising to his feet suddenly. The silence so deafening that the end of his motion, Steve could hear the sound of his chair scraping across the flooring.
"I will be the spokesperson of the Avengers at this time- you in the hat." Stark declared, pointing at a blonde haired reporter who rushed forward.
"Sure this is a smart idea?" Steve whispered to Bruce who sighed.
"Natasha told me Tony is a businessman and great with the press- I've never seen him in action." Bruce whispered back, causing anxiety to flutter in Steve's chest.
"Shoot." Tony nodded to the flustered reporter who thrust her microphone up into his face.
"If this is the first accident due to the Avenger's interference who is to say this will not be the last time?" She hurriedly asked. Steve's breath hitched, slightly alarmed at the question. Tony seemed unfazed.
"Uh, yes Mrs.-"He left off letting her fill it in.
"Berkeley." He resumed, looking marginally pleased with her cooperation.
"Well then, Mrs. Berkeley. The Avenger's were created for the sole purpose of defending the peace and the lives of the innocent. The occasional problem of broken property can be repaired, and paid for. I'm sorry, but the life of a living person isn't equatable to cash.." He smoothly recovered. The reporter frowned, expecting the response.
"Funny words coming from a previous weapons manufacturer." She dared challenge, Bruce glanced at Tony alarmed.
"Very funny actually."
"Aren't you a joker, Mr. Stark?"
"Actually I am."
"And your new nickname, the Iron Weapon?"
"Not the worst one I've had." He calmly added. Steve noticed the woman becoming swiftly frustrated with the way he was able to evade the questions she threw at him.
"Do you care to tell us why it doesn't seem to matter to you?"
"No actually- you, Blue eyes, Shoot." He shrugged off the girl, looking at the older man who had a notepad with him.
"Yes, Jackson sir, - Many of the citizens do not feel safe while the monster known as 'The Hulk' destroys property." He commented, Steve meeting a scowling Bruce's' eye, however Tony blinked, already responding.
"I will have you know, that the 'monster' is one of the whole purposes that this world is not invaded from hostile threats."
"Then with our world in the balance, you argue over one monster?" The reporter shot back with the grin of a hungry vulture.
Tony chuckled, leaning back against the podium he sat at, flipping the cap of water he was momentarily toying with as he responded in an almost carefree way.
"I'm sorry, If you're accusing us of morally unacceptable actions in the event of saving lives, well, I guess I could say that you brought the monster."
'No, you brought the monster.'
"Capri, Sir- Does that mean that you will be going against the wishes of the people?" A lady in the back shouted, jumping to be seen above the heads of the other.
"The people decide what they want themselves. But I'm as sure as hell that they don't want you bloodying our name over a small problem of a busted burger joint. We're done here." Tony stated with finality. He turned, walking away as the other Avenger's hurried after like puppies- ignoring the blinding camera flashes.
Steve swallowed behind the confident black suited inventor- as much as he hated to admit it, at times, Tony reminded him of Loki a bit.
x-(X 3 X)-x
It was part of a weekly training schedule when the Avengers met up in the fitness room of the Avengers Mansion, or Tower, depending on how you wanted to call it.
Natasha was currently going strong against Steve. His strength and weight providing him help, but with Natasha she had training and speed on her side. Bruce was in the corner, doing an Indian version of Yoga to make himself 'as happy as a hippy' as Tony called it. Clint was up in the rafters, making his way across his own version of an obstacle course. (Natasha had helped design it, it couldn't be too easy.). Thor was still on Asgard, apparently the noble folk needed help.
Steve yelped as he was pinned to the ground, Natasha had her legs wrapped around his neck. Giving a smirk, she flipped off of him, and chose to lean against the edges of the boxing ring while reaching for her water bottle.
"Hey Stark- want to go a few rounds?" Steve called over to Tony, who was out of place in the gym, preferring to read a decently thick physical book.
"Nah, nice and comfy over here." He rolled off his tongue, turning a page of his book. The same time, just for emphasis, he flexed his back. The resounding cracks only proved how long he had been reading.
"Why not Stark? Afraid Cap's going to take you down?" Clint asked, hanging by his ankles, swaying five feet above their heads.
"Keep dreaming bat-boy." Tony shouted back, noticing the odd position Clint was in. Clint scowled and crossed his arm at the nickname, the bottom of his shirt falling down to expose his naval. He quickly used one arm to pin it to his body, ignoring how the blood rushed to his head.
"Don't hang like that too long or you'll lose the brain cells you have left." Tony shouted up as Clint started to hang by only one leg.
"You're just jealous!" Clint shouted back, swinging away while Natasha shook her head.
"Why don't you fight Steve? You've been reading for hours." Natasha advised Tony, who pointedly ignored her. Steve walked up and personally took the book from his lap.
"There." Steve stated, satisfied with his job.
"You just took my book- you don't just take my book." Tony stumbled, blinking as he was yet to overcome the surprise on what just happened. Bruce snorted in the corner, still looking like a meditating yoga instructor excluding the one opened eye that showed obvious mirth.
"Come on! What's wrong with a friendly match?" Steve- although he would never admit it- whined, pulling lightly on the man's hand.
Tony frowned, retrieving his book and opening it to a page Steve knew was random.
"What could be so important that you need to read rather than train?" Natasha asked, sitting balanced on the corner of the boxing ring.
"If you must know Raggedy Ann- it's a book on Mythology." He stressed out the word, the room silent for a moment before Clint snorted loudly in the rafters. Bruce himself even turned way to hide his laughter.
"It's Loki Mythology." Tony explained, stopping the amused laughter as they now understood.
"Hey- reading about him isn't going to stop him Stark. Go a few rounds- if you get better fighting then you can take him down."
"Or get our asses kicked." Tony snidely commented, flipping ahead a few hundred pages to get to where he originally was.
"One fight won't hurt you Tony." Clint tried from the rafters, getting an annoyed look from the inventor.
"Shut it Legolas- I'm reading, you should try it out sometime."
"Shut it Sta-"
"Boys!" Natasha shouted, glaring at the two before she crossed her arms, looking at Tony with an annoyed look in her eye.
"Tell me, why is it so important to know about Loki?" She sighed, and Tony's eyes lit up at the chance to explain.
"If we know about him, we can beat him. Here- it says that Loki and Thor once had another brother named…Balder, and Loki tricked a blind dude into shooting him with a Mistletoe arrow and killed him!" Tony exclaimed, looking smug while Clint lifted an eyebrow.
"So we shoot Loki with a mistletoe arrow?"
"No it doesn't work like th- Look…here, Loki once crashed a party and killed a guy there named…Fimafeng."
"Stark, we're supposed to capture the guy, not sign him up for Dr. Phil."
"Shut it Robin Hood! You don't get it! None of you do!" Tony snapped angrily, looking back at his book and reading angrily. Natasha sighed, leaning against the post and daring to read.
"What don't we get, Stark?" She ground out- she didn't have time for this.
"Knowledge is power. The more we know, the more we can stop him. Each of these legends have some sort of truth in them- and even the smallest weakness we can use against him! We can find his deepest darkest secret, something he hates or is ashamed of and use it! He'd never bother us again after that! He would be weak!" Tony exclaimed excitedly.
Everyone shifted, uncertain and frankly quite uncomfortable.
Natasha understood- and she noticed the similarities.
Tony looked in books for dark secrets, Loki looked in a person, and they were aiming to do the same thing.
Late at night when Stark had long since passed out with a bottle of Vodka- Natasha grabbed that book of his, and tossed it into the fireplace.
He didn't ask for it back.
x-(X 4 X)-x
Thor had arrived- Thunder didn't often crack in broad daylight, not to mention a broken window and the shriek of Tony nearly experiencing cardiac arrest.
The Avenger were lazily spread out on leather couches, dragging chairs and small tables over to create footstools. Thor was the exception, taking an entire couch for himself.
"So- how's Asgard?" Steve asked, sharing his couch with Bruce next to him. Bruce was wearing purple socks, resting on the armrest of the couch Tony claimed as his own.
"Oh! Asgard is well! Lady Sif and The Warrior Three slain a Fire Drake in my absence- they tell me it was most glorious!" Thor boomed loudly, a large smile spread across his scruffy face. It was so excited, the expression on someone with Thor's stature was uncomfortable.
"Right, well Beef Cakes, we've been attacked by walking pickles, a few boring robberies, and stopped mutated Flipper from taking over San Diego." Tony explained lazily, using a remote to flick through channels faster than anyone could actually watch. He had run out of coffee hours before, and was just beginning to drift into a light doze.
"A mutated flipper? I do not understand- was the rest of the creature unharmed?" Thor nquired. Clint snorted in the background as Tony changed channels from the horror movie with a screaming girl.
"No Thor- it's a nickname of a dolphin on this planet." Bruce explained, casting an apologetic look at the god, who didn't seem that upset. "Similar to a whale, but more streamline and playful."
"Ah! A midgardian creature! Is it frightening?"
"Yeah- it'll cuddle you to death." Clint muttered, sitting in a reclining chair as Natasha was perched on the arm, the majority of her weight on a chair dragged in from the kitchen.
Tony flipped the channel once more. His expression shifted from bored indifference to rapid attentiveness as he jolted upwards. Accidently knocking Bruce's purple clothed feet from his own couch.
"Jarvis- turn up the sound." Tony commanded, the news reporter's voice suddenly heard.
"-ast night. Eyewitnesses state, that at 11 PM, the smell of leather was strong in the air, as well as what civilians describe, 'a wet dog'."
"A wet dog? How do you get a smell like that in a room?" Steve asked in surprise, noticing the very amused look in Tony's eyes. Steve tensed with cautious alarm.
"Following after, an ice sculpture melted in minutes. Fire alarms and fire containing measures were activated minutes later.. Here we go to Cindy on Channel 3 with a live witness- Cindy?"
"An ice sculpture melted in minutes?" Bruce quizzicaly asked, eyebrows rising into his hairline. Clint smirked at the video footage of a pile of ice collapsing suddenly. Thor looked confused yet entirely happy to be so.
"Oh it was awful! The noise was so loud! And the water started ruining my hair! Ugh, I spent hours on my hair! And my make-up! It was ruined!" The witness, Cindy, bawled. Clint instantly burst into laughter, barely able to explain the words 'Donald Trump' to Natasha, who quickly suffered with snickers soon after.
"Any ideas on how this happened?"
"Oh how should I know? My dress cost more than your paycheck! And my shoes! They were trampled on in the ru-"
"That's all the time we have for now! We'll be right back-"
Tony selected the mute option once the advertisements began, looking quite pleased with the report.
"Those party's were always so boring- no alcohol? Please." Tony snorted, trying unsuccessfully to hold back a grin.
"That was you?"
"Please- it wasn't that hard." Tony dismissed, eyes gleaming.
Thor chuckled deeply, eyes looking at Friend Stark who now laughed openly.
Yes, mischief was okay now and again.
x-(X 5 X)-x
Bruce sighed, leaning back on his chair as he watched Tony angrily take up a hammer and bend a sheet of metal. The mallet impacted the slowly denting sheet with resonating clangs! Tony was using more force than necessary.
It wasn't exactly Steve's fault, in hindsight, Tony should have seen it coming.
Steve had come down with a plate of sandwiches, having relieved Pepper of her duty of keeping Tony in health. He had walked down the elaborate staircase, knocking on the glass of the door. Tony hadn't noticed, being part way through a breakthrough on stopping the plasma discharge from his reactor (changing it was a pain according to the billionaire). Bruce gave a hard kick from his own side of the room to slide his chair across the stone, opening the door for Steve with a smile.
Tony, being paranoid, forbade access to everyone except Bruce and Pepper. Then again, there was a high change Thor would break something, Steve would accidently damage digital records, and the 'ninja duo' would sabotage the place for fun.
"Thanks Bruce." Steve smiled, stepping through the unlocked door frame. Bruce snatched one of the sandwiches and rolled back towards his side.
"Watch out- he's made a breakthrough." Bruce warned jokingly during his retreat.
Bruce was faintly aware of Tony making a few retorts before Steve fell prey to the 'What's that?' and was now being forced to endure the (sometimes agonizing) receiving end of Tony's rambles.
"-So, with the changed base inserted the Plasma reacts on a molecular scale-"
"Wait! I'm lost here!" Steve whined, Bruce snorting at the hopeless voice he was using.
"He made a coating to go on the inside of his reactor that neutralizes the Plasma Discharge of his reactor." Bruce called out helpfully, a few more words from Tony, trying to complicate it, no doubt, and Steve laughed, finally getting it.
That's when the accident happened.
Bruce heard the name and spun, looking at now growing pale Steve, as he now realized what he had just said.
"Oh my, I'm so sorry Tony- I didn't mean to-"
"Get out." Tony said so quietly, Bruce strained his ears to even hear the words spoken.
"It was an accident! Really-"
"Leave." Tony scathingly whispered, a more direct command that sent Steve hurrying to the door, the plate of sandwiches forgotten.
It was silent after the glass door closed. Bruce turned, keeping a watchful eye on Tony as he stared at his bench. His eyes were slightly blank, he seemed to be thinking, not saying a single thing.
"It was bound to happen." Bruce found himself saying, mentally kicking himself and ignoring the faint grunt in his mind.
"I never want to be compared to that bastard." Tony hissed after seemingly snapping out of his daze, he met eyes temporarily with Bruce before grabbing a nearby screwdriver and clutching it so tightly his knuckles turned white.
"I hate that man!" Tony screamed, hurling the screwdriver across the room. Tony glared as it smashed into one of his Iron Man posters nearby the T.V.
Bruce sat back, feeling small as Tony grabbed another tool- a wrench- and hurled it again, smashing the mirror above the sink this time.
"I hate him!" He shouted, kicking over the stool he had been sitting on.
"I hate him! Hate him, hate him, hate him!" He screamed, grabbing an advanced electronic hammer and breaking the glass barrier to the hallway.
"Jarvis? Lock down all the suits please." Bruce asked very softly, a quiet beep was his response.
"That man deserved to die." Tony seethed, now stalking around his lab, occasionally knocking over things that weren't lethal, and continuing on with his rant.
His robots retreated into their charging stations, lowering their heads to remain unnoticed.
"Every thing I did just wasn't good enough for him! He was always so busy look for his 'precious Captain America!' I hate him so much- why didn't he ever see what I did! Everything I made he'd ignore, just like he ignored me and my mother! I'm glad he's dead!" Tony continued to rant- this time stopping on his fourth journey around the lab.
Tony snatched up the large stool and hurled it through the only remaining panel of glass, shattering that and denting the plaster on the other side.
Bruce swallowed, noticing how Tony's eyes were dilated and his nostrils flared in his anger. He was suddenly very happy the suits were taken care of.
"The worst part is, if he found the Cap while he were still alive, he'd give me up in a heartbeat. Tony Stark, always living in the shadow of his Father to the eyes of the world, and living in the shadow of Steve Rogers to his dad- how I hate irony." Tony growled, making his way near the broken glass.
His shoes made crunching noises as he stepped past the frames, ignoring the stool still lodged in the wall and started up the stairs, no doubt to the training room where he could maul a poor sandbag.
Bruce let out the breath he had been holding.
"Yes Dr. Banner?"
"How often does this happen?"
"Events similar to this occur whenever the topic of Howard Stark is brought up."
"Right." Bruce sighed, wetting his lips slightly. "File that away for everybody on the 'do not speak of' list."
Bruce leaned back in his chair, the springs giving a slight groan although it was recently bought for his personal use.
"Seems like Loki isn't the only one with family issues." Bruce sighed, running one hand through his hair, more as a nervous habit than need.
A light fixture groaned, before crashing to the floor, sparking loudly.
Dummy made quick work of the 'fire'.
x-(X +1 X)-x
Fury had called a meeting, pulling each of the Avengers away from the tasks they had been doing. Bruce and Tony had been in the lab, Bruce abandoning it at nightfall although Tony seemed to work all night in a sour mood, eventually trying out his experiment to discover why the new alloy for his reactor gave him something similar to 'heartburn'.
Stark was touchy at best, ignoring the meeting to hack into some national archive for amusement. He only paid attention when a location a foe was at was given, then he darted off before anyone could stop him. It was a tireless process that Nick Fury had long since gotten used to, however, it wasn't that often when Stark was in a sour mood- in fact Nick Fury had only seen it one other time.
He knew in that one other experience, that a Tony Stark with no leash on his tongue sometimes could hurt more than one of Clint's arrows to the knee.
"Stark! Pay attention!" Fury barked, noticing how the particularly annoyed Tony ignored him completely, continuing to click on his tiny phone. At least it was on mute.
"Stark! Did you even hear me-"
"Yes, I did, I just don't care" Tony flipped back casually, continuing to hack away.
Nick Fury stared, as did the others. A casually insult-throwing Tony was easy to respond to, but a suddenly ignoring Stark? That was a puzzle.
"I'll give you a damn reason to obey! Loki attac-"
"Downtown Brooklyn, reported with three antlered monsters, each with green collars." Tony responded, cutting off Fury as he relayed all that SHIELD had been able to find.
The team blinked, fully expecting Stark to say something relating to 'Now Rudolph has friends!" Or something more witty along those lines. They stared as he calmly continued to click away on his phone.
"Then get your metal ass down there." Fury growled out from his locked jaw, fists curling as he glared with his one eye.
"I don't see a reason why we should as we always are capable of stopping Loki without harm to others. What could a few minutes help us, instead of relaxation and preparation?" Tony said back, teeth locked tightly together as he gave a mocking smile to Fury.
Fury swallowed, continuing to glare before he momentarily looked at everyone else; Steve's stunned face, Bruce's calm and sympathetic, Natasha's calculating, Thor's confusion, and Clint's annoyance.
"You know Stark, just because we have to take down Loki, doesn't mean that you're allowed to act like him." Clint muttered, standing up and yanking the door open hard enough for the door stopper to slam into the wood framing, denting it slightly.
"See you in Brooklyn." Natasha nodded, standing up and marching out, Steve and Bruce following quickly for an escape, Thor following because the others had left.
Fury sighed, taking the back door out of the room, leaving Stark at the table, phone long since forgotten, breathing sharply with fingers pressed to his temple.
Stark knew that only Fury and Pepper knew that he tended to act like a certain god, even before Tony had met him.
At times, Tony really hated Loki- not because he was an evil magic using god, but because he was a damn clever, manipulative, solo working genius.
Tony hated him because it was like a mirror sometimes.